Libraries need to support informal STE(A)M learning. Here's why:
Libraries can and should provide fun informal learning opportunities around STEM subjects, because:
Early interest in STEM is more of an indictor than academic performance (Tai et al. 2006)
Curiosity and enjoyment are integral to engagement with STEAM (Hidi & Renninger 2006)
Library STEM programs are incredibly impactful because they have the opportunity to engage and retain large numbers of community members from diverse populations; to generate curiosity and interest in STEM subjects; and to help people gain real STEM skills and processes. At the Fayetteville Free Library, Stephanie has planned and facilitated the following STEM based programs:
Science Storytime - Each week we explore a different science theme with corresponding activities and experiments. Examples of activities include playing with magnets, experimenting with inclines, and making things explode!
Tinker Tots - Designed for children ages 2-6 years old, in this program we explore a topic through a picture book, which is followed by hands-on opportunities to learn, explore, and invent.
Little Makers - This program encouages children ages 5-8 to imagine, create, and build. We begin by reading a fiction and a non-fiction book to learn about a topic and then we apply that new knowledge through experiments and hands-on maker activities.
Geek Girl Camp - This week long STEM camp for girls in grades 3-5 provides an immersive experience designed to introduce girls to role-models (women in STEM careers) and show girls how fun science can be.